Facebook is blocking searches for "Kyle Rittenhouse," the shooter allegedly responsible for the murder of two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Tuesday night. The behavior was first reported by Rolling Stone, but The Verge was able to confirm the block through direct testing. A search by name will return no results, while a more general search will return a series of results by name of the shooter.
After Rittenhouse was identified and charged on Wednesday, Facebook removed his profile and prevented users from creating new profiles under the name, fearing that copycat profiles could be used to spread disinformation. However, blocking searches on the name is a more drastic measure, especially at a time when interest in the details of the attack is highest. The platform doesn't appear to be preventing content from being published or shared, but it does seem to limit its accessibility through search.
A search for the name returned no results.
A search for "Kenosha Shooter" will bring up various articles and posts that contain the name of Rittenhouse.
Reached by The Verge, Facebook confirmed that searches were blocked but downplayed the importance of the measure. "It's not really new," said a representative. "We block searches for a lot of things – for example, content about child exploitation."
In an earlier statement on the shootings, the platform stressed that it is taking proactive measures to limit harmful information after the incident. "We called this shooting a mass murder and removed the shooter's accounts from Facebook and Instagram," said a Facebook representative.
Rittenhouse has been at the center of a wave of controversy since being identified by a deluge of open source information on Wednesday. Identification was confirmed when a local police department issued an arrest warrant for Rittenhouse.
A number of self-proclaimed militia groups, including the Kenosha Guard, were also banned after the shootings, having previously been classified as acceptable by Facebook moderators. According to Facebook, the internal investigation has found no evidence that Rittenhouse is connected to the Kenosha Guard.
Update 4:07 p.m. ET: Updated with Facebook comment.